What It Is
Tracking energy use involves monitoring, recording, reviewing, and analyzing energy bills and data on a regular basis so that you can identify how energy is used, and reduce costs and consumption.
Why It Matters
Tracking energy usage is an important first step to understanding how your organization uses energy, which is necessary before any efforts to reduce energy costs and usage can be made. Tracking energy usage can:
- Identify inefficient facilities
- Catch any billing errors
- Identify energy consumption trends and patterns
- Help prepare budgets
- Generate sustainability reports
When and if an energy saving program is put into place, the new energy usage amounts can be compared to the benchmark energy use to see if the program is effective.
The first step to tracking energy use is to collect at least 12 consecutive months of each type of energy bill. At many organizations, the landlord pays the monthly energy bills and the organization does not even see the bill. An organization can ask the landlord to see its energy bill, explaining that being able to track energy use will save the organization and the landowner money. Once the bills are collected, follow these steps:
- Step One: Determine how you want to track energy usage.
- Step Two: Set goals and create an action plan.
- Step Three: Track and monitor energy use.
- Step Four: Measure results.
Step One: Determine how you want to track energy usage. Several options exist:
- Create your own spreadsheets where you manually enter forms of electricity used (electric, gas, etc.), consumption, and cost.
- ENERGY STAR Use Portfolio Manager. An interactive, online energy management tool where you can track and analyze energy and water use in an individual building or across your entire range of buildings. This tool normalizes energy use data for weather, occupancy levels, or tasks that affect energy use so that energy use comparisons are valid. It can also identify under-performing buildings, verify efficiency increases, and help you receive EPA recognition if your building has superior energy performance. The ENERGY STAR Benchmarking Starter Kit is a quick and easy way to begin benchmarking your buildings’ energy performance.
- Green Plus has also created a tool for tracking energy use. For access to this tool, please email Green Plus at email@example.com.
These three systems are considered benchmarking tools. More complex tools will be explained further in the “Going Further” section of this guide.
Step Two: Set goals and create an action plan.
- Develop clear goals for tracking and decreasing energy usage. Having clear goals can guide decision-making and form the basis for tracking and measuring progress.
- Define a tracking process, including the reporting protocol and specific team member responsibilities. Team members should include management, staff, and building operators.
- Provide incentives, like bonuses and recognition, to team members.
- Report to stakeholders on energy tracking progress.
Step Three: Track and monitor energy use.
- Perform regular updates so the data is not out of date. To streamline the process for yourself, assign one employee to track and update the data, and set a regular time (monthly, bi-monthly, etc…) for that employee to make changes.
- Periodically conduct reviews to see if you are meeting goals. These reviews should focus on the progress made, any problems thus far, and potential rewards to team members.
Step Four: Measure results.
- Review energy use and organize reports and data from tracking and monitoring actions.
- Compare energy use to baseline energy use to determine environmental performance and financial savings. The ENERGY STAR Energy Performance Indicators can be used to rate your current energy performance against the performance of similar facilities.
In addition to benchmarking systems, more complex systems exist to track energy:
- Building Automation Systems usually require the addition of energy meters with analysis or alarm capabilities.
- Energy Information Systems are typically separate from existing building automation systems. They gather, store, process, and display energy data, usually through an internet-accessible interface.
- Energy Anomaly Detection Systems analyze the whole building by comparing the building’s energy consumption to an expected energy consumption based on simulations or algorithms. Alarms are generated when actual consumption varies from these expectations, and staff determines the cause of the alarms.
- Fault Detection and Diagnostic Systems provide system-level fault detection and cause of fault from the bottom-up. Alarms indicate system or individual component faults, so building staff know where the problem is located. 
The Westin Tabor Center
The Westin Tabor Center and Hotel in Denver, Colorado, began using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager in 2007 to benchmark its energy use. Based on energy data from the previous year, the hotel received an energy performance rating of 36 out of a possible 100. The hotel then took a staged approach and set a goal to achieve a rating of 75. It now tracks its steam, chilled water, electricity, sewer, and gas amounts. The rating generated by Portfolio Manager motivates staff to improve and are used to engage staff on how to further improve energy efficiency. The Executive Committee of the hotel also uses the data to obtain funding for capital projects. The Westin currently has an energy performance rating of 63, and the hotel is fine-tuning its energy management system and installing LED lighting in common areas to increase this rating.
- Commercial Energy Auditing Reference Handbook by Steve Doty
- Energy Star Portfolio Manager Data Collection Worksheet
- Energy Star Portfolio Manager Quick Reference Guide
- Energy Star Benchmarking Tools
Tracking energy usage is the first step to implementing an energy reduction program. Many different options exist to tracking energy, from simple Excel spreadsheets, to complex whole building systems. Tracking energy usage is a way for your business to save money and benefit the environment.
 Steve Heinz, “Track Your Energy Costs and Consumption Patterns,” Corp Magazine, 3 November 2011, http://www.corpmagazine.com/technology/green/itemid/8439/pageid/2/track-your-energy-costs-and-consumption-patterns, accessed 26 July 2013.
 Mark Effinger, Hannah Friedman, Dave Moser, Building Performance Tracking in Large Commercial Buildings: Tools and Strategies, California Commissioning Collaborative, September 2010, http://www.cacx.org/PIER/documents/Subtask_4-2_Report.pdf, accessed 26 July 2013.
 Julio Rovi, Hotels: Rating Energy Performance Using EPA’s Portfolio Manager, The Cadmus Group Inc., https://www.tnvacation.com/sustainable/download.php?id=142, accessed 26 July 2013.